The funny thing was that Nick would talk to me on the phone like we were old friends — sometimes. Megan said we needed to get him into the office for an interview, so I “courted” him until he finally agreed to a meeting. That morning she briefed me. She rearranged the chairs in the office foyer so Nick would have free access to the nearby exit door. Then she herded everybody else in back and assumed the role of receptionist, wearing frosted blue mascara and a low-cut camisole with a loose overblouse concealing her shoulder holster.
Nick was friendly and cooperative as, under Megan’s gaze, we talked about airplanes and performance. Then I suggested he “come clean” and we’d “get these issues cleared up and behind him.” Suddenly, like the night on the ramp, Doctor Jekyll became Mr. Hyde, and I understood the importance of the unobstructed exit path. It was weird. ... I thought Megan and I were magnificent, but he must have smelled a rat because, suddenly and violently, Nick was “outta” there.
Long story (several months) short, Megan got her man and Nick got a felony conviction for falsification of government documents and heaven knows what else. Then, while he was in the slammer, Mrs. Nick decided to take flying lessons in her Sundowner, using the same freelancer, whose instructional skills weren’t much better than his judgment. She crashed on her first solo, escaping unscathed, which was more than you could say for the Sundowner (fortunately, I thought).
Anyway, with Nick still on ice, the airplane in baskets and Megan promoted to a different office, I was happy that our friend was permanently out of the sky — or so I thought. After a felony conviction you have to wait a year before you can apply for an FAA medical. And if there were forgery issues or false statements about psychiatric issues or the use of recreational or prescription drugs, the file is flagged. Getting another medical was, I assumed, impossible.
Just before I retired, Nick, now out of jail, called me wanting to know the procedure for regaining his medical and student certificates. Somewhere between outrage, disbelief and a sense of the ridiculous, I transferred the call to my manager, who forwarded it to an FAA lawyer, who consulted with “Medical,” who could find no flags on the file. So, if he went through the prescribed application process ...
I should say that struck me as something less than “in the best interests of safety,” but the truth is it struck me as unbelievable, and, boy, was I pissed.